DEARBORN — House Democrats announced legislation at a press conference today aimed at preventing air pollution by increasing protections, curbing emissions and holding corporate polluters accountable. The press conference was held in front of Salina Intermediate School in Dearborn, which stands only a few hundred feet away from A.K. Steel’s Dearborn plant. The plant — which came under A.K. Steel’s management in 2014 — has a long history of Clean Air Act violations at the facility, and was forced in 2015 to pay a $1.35 million settlement for the pollution caused to the region.

“For years corporate polluters have been able to operate unchecked, and the health of Michigan residents across the state has been jeopardized because of it,” said state Rep. Abdullah Hammoud (D-Dearborn). “Michigan’s success is directly tied to whether or not the people of this state are able to work and live in safety, because at the end of the day people and businesses alike don’t want to be someplace where the air is unbreathable. Our package aims to ensure that success for tomorrow by protecting the air our families breathe today.”

“It seems like wherever I turn, I see people in our community who are struggling because of the air we’re forced to breathe,” said Dearborn resident Samra’a Luqman. “People can’t lead healthy lives. We just want the chance to do normal things like walking our pets or playing in parks or talking to our neighbors on the sidewalk without having to fear what’s in the air. That is a basic right every person in this state should be able to expect.”

The bill package would improve public health by expanding air quality criteria, strengthening standards and increasing local control for the emissions permitting process, and fostering greater accountability between polluters and the communities they impact.

“As the Great Lakes State we’re rightly focused on preserving and protecting our natural resources,” said state Rep. Tyrone Carter (D-Detroit). “But that conversation too often becomes limited to protecting and preserving only forests or lakes. Being ‘Pure Michigan’ means our air should be pure, too. It means parents should be able to let their kids play outdoors. It means Michiganders should be able to walk to work safely. And it means that we don’t let corporate polluters take those possibilities away from our families.”

“Every person in this state, no matter their zip code, deserves the freedom to step outside and breathe clean air,” said state Rep. Matt Koleszar (D-Plymouth). “Yet bad actors, with zero oversight or accountability, have robbed Michiganders of that freedom for too long. Our package is going to change that. At the end of the day, it’s about taking power from these corporations and putting it back in the hands of the people, where it belongs.”